Cosmologists are making ever more precise measurements of the universe and have found that they know almost precisely nothing about what it is made of. Only one percent of the universe is made of the kind of everyday matter that can be seen with telescopes -- the stars, the planets, us. Another three and a half percent is made of hot gas that can only be seen with X-ray instruments. The rest is a complete mystery: 24 percent is dark matter whose gravity holds our galaxy together; the remaining 71 percent is dark energy, whose repulsive gravity is causing the expansion of the universe to speed up, not slow down as expected.
Three prominent scientists -- astronomer Rocky Kolb, particle physicist Joe Lykken and cosmologist Michael Turner -- discuss what we know about the nature of dark matter and dark energy. They discuss the roles of particle accelerators and telescopes in solving the mystery of the unseen 96 percent the universe. They conclude by explaining what all of this means for our understanding of elementary particles and the fate of the universe.
Michael Turner is a professor in the departments of Astronomy and Astrophysics, and Physics at the University of Chicago. He's affiliated with the Enrico Fermi Institute and Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics Research. His areas of interest include theoretical astrophysics, cosmology and elementary particle physics.
Edward “Rocky” Kolb is Chair and Arthur Holly Compton Distinguished Service Professor in the department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago. He's affiliated with the Enrico Fermi Institute and Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics Research. His research areas include cosmic inflation models, gravitational production of particles, particle dark matter, ultra-high energy cosmic rays and high-energy neutrino astronomy.
Joe Lykken is a particle physicist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory Research. His research aims to answer some of the biggest (and simultaneously the smallest) mysteries in the universe, such as why particles have the masses they do, the connection between quantum mechanics and gravity, and if there are unseen, extra dimensions in addition to the three space dimensions we experience.
This talk was hosted by the Chicago Council on Science and Technology, Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics and Science Chicago.
Recorded Tuesday, February 24, 2009 at Blackstone Hotel-Crystal Ballroom.